Lightening the Load
In the Gospel Christ says that his yoke is easy and his burden is light. But how can this be true? Doesn’t each Christian among us have a heavy burden to carry?
Nobody needs me to say what makes a burden heavy. Everyone can look at his own life and make the list. And even if there is some person who has no worries or sadness for himself, he must be a very lonely person, if he is not carrying a burden for someone else whom he loves.
So, in what sense is Christ’s yoke easy and his burden light?
To see why Christ’s saying really is true after all, consider the condition Christ sets for getting the gift he offers to us, the easy yoke and the light burden: “Come to me,” he says.
To come to someone is to let that person come into you. It is to be open to him, to let his will make a difference to what you yourself will and do. This isn’t safe, generally speaking.
But when the person to whom you come is Christ himself, the vulnerability which openness brings with it is more than matched by the love Christ gives. In the gift of that love, everything that might be loss is turned into gift given and gift received, to be returned again in love.
Even death is like this. One does not have to face death as if it were a depredation. Within the love of Christ, what might be only irrevocable loss of one’s life can become a sharing with Christ too. One can offer one’s life as gift to Christ, with Christ, for Christ, as one goes through death to arrive at life in love in Christ.
And if the heavy load of death can be lightened in this way, then what Christ says is true about every other heavy burden, too: in coming to him, in shared love with him, we will find that his yoke is easy and his burden is light.
Eleonore Stump is Professor of Philosophy, Saint Louis University
**From Saint Louis University